Michael Field at Stuff reports:
Fiji’s military dictatorship has slammed a draft constitution drawn up with New Zealand aid as an appeasement to racist divisions in the Pacific nation.
But military strongman Voreqe Bainimarama, who rules Fiji by decree, told the nation on Thursday night there will be a new constitution – and democracy restoring elections next year.
Bainimarama, who overthrew democracy in 2006, commissioned Kenyan law professor Yash Ghai to draft a new constitution, but after it was presented last month, police seized copies of it and burnt printer’s proofs.
Since leaked, the Ghai document proposes to force the military out of political life and make it permissible for soldiers to disobey an order to take part in a coup.
I think Bainimarama started this with relatively good intentions, but it is becoming clear he will never give up power. The draft constitution included everything he wanted in terms of no racial divisions, one electoral roll etc. He just didn’t like the provisions that the military must be accountable to Parliament, not vice-versa.
Bainimarama then told the nation he had asked for the draft to be amended to ensure that it was positive.
Aew draft of what will become Fiji’s fourth constitution would be be available by the end of this month.
He will then send it to a constituent assembly made up of people he will appoint to finalise it.
His draft will include the military staying on as some sort of over-lord. This is repugnant. Legitimacy comes from free and open elections, not from the end of a gun.